Posts Tagged ‘Upset The Rhythm’

Vintage Crop

No secret around here that I have a penchant for Aussie punk, and some of the best singles banging out these days come not from Melbourne or Brisbane, but from Geelong via Vintage Crop. The band’s bit hard on the live socket swagger of Wire, The Fall, and other such ‘70s spitters with jagged leads and caustic choruses. The record swings from pit-sweat thrummers to the kind of writhing, coiled killers that have made the band such an endearing presence the last couple of years. Serve To Serve Again was recorded with Mikey Young and there’s certainly a reverence for Young’s own ECSR legacy in the mix. With Young at the boards VC are accentuating the spring-loaded attack and brittle ends that have let punk and post-punk copulate in the current Aussie environment to create a sickened and swinging brand of propulsive punk that won’t be pinned to the floor.

Bass lines bulge at the seams, barely fitting into their niche, guitars scorch, slash, dart, and dodge the microphones and atop the glorious din Jack Cherry lays into the louche life with a sneer that can be felt through the wobble of the speakers. Unfurled late-stage capitalism, wage slave doldrums, and the festering tension of a generation left in the lurch all leak into the lyrics. The band wraps Jack’s invective around their supple songwriting, mulling the bile before letting it loose into the water supply. Vintage Crop have been hammering out squirm-inducing sonics for the past few years, but with Serve To Serve Again I do believe they’re peaking.




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Vintage Crop – “The North”

A second bent and bulging single from Aussies Vintage Crop comes with an austere Video in tow. “The North” is built on the same bulbous basslines that pushed the band’s previous cut, but there’s a dash of New Wave keys splashed on top as well that add an infectious itch. That said, this song is driven by the guitar/bass battle for which is gonna gum the most gristle. The tones are thick and satisfying and the band proves that they’ve got post-punk nailed to the door with every note. There’s not a miss on their upcoming album, but this is a prime example of the band at their peak. The record arrives August 7th as a split release between Upset The Rhythm and Anti-Fade.



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Naked Roommate – “Mad Love”

The exciting news of the new single from Naked Roommate is balanced by the equally sad news that it’s officially over for The World. The beloved Oakland post-punk outfit only had a handful of records, but they lit a disjointed fire on each one. The band’s Amber Sermeńo & Andy Jordan carry on the torch, but strip things back further than the sax-scratched sounds of The World. Alongside mems of Bad Bad, Preening, and Blues Lawyer, the pair embrace a skeletal beat that recalls ESG, C.O.C.O., or the disjointed funk of Lizzy Mercier Descloux. “Mad Love” bubbles in on beats inflated with recycled air, a loping bass and rubberized ripples of guitar. Ringlets of synth dart across the room with laser-guided glee and the whole song is held fast by the icy delivery of Sermeńo, who’s giving this a delightfully more lived-in approach than on The World’s output. The record’s a joint venture between Trouble in Mind in the US and Upset The Rhythm in the UK. The record is out September 4th and notably, the band & the labels will be donating any proceeds from the sale of the digital single for “Mad Love” thru the end of July to the Anti-Police Terror Project.




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Vintage Crop – “Gridlock”

Brand new ripper today from Aussies Vintage Crop. The band’s been issuing records up to this point on Aussie Indies Weather Vane and Anti-Fade, but while they remain on the latter at home, they make a jump internationally to Upset The Rhythm for their latest, Serve To Serve Again. ‘Gridlock’ is indicative of the band’s tightly coiled punk — muscular, slightly paranoid, and pulsing with an energy that’s hard to ignore. The song’s full of frustration, and its grit-teethed delivery is a bit cathartic in weary weather. Jack from VC provides a bit of backstory, including the note that the song was inspired by actual traffic, though the feeling pours over into areas of stagnation in life elsewhere for sure.

“The title for the song came first;” he notes, “stuck in traffic and running late to a gig a few years ago. We laughed at the name and threw it onto a few different songs before it stuck, after Tyson finally penned the lyrics. Thematically, ‘Gridlock’ is frustrated, pushy & stressed, which are emotions that we felt that day when we were stuck in traffic. It’s one of the first songs we finished for Serve to Serve Again and is a perfect example of the band’s songwriting. It’s got everything that we do – unbalanced riff-work, tight drumming & sharp lyrics.” The LP is out August 7th on Upset The Rhythm / Anti-Fade.




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Primo!

Aussies Primo! only strengthen their hold on me with the release of their second album for Upset The Rhythm — a cracking burst of post-punk that’s somehow both tightly wound and about to unravel at the same time. The sound is raw, not underproduced by any means, but not shined to please the masses either. The chords whack into the listener, crunching bones like a solid piece of timber broken in two —jagged but effective all the same. Aesthetics aside, the band’s got a good grip of hooks under the hood and they drive Sogni as hard as their last album. The guitars stretch with elasticity, crunch with a crinkle, drive breezily and then stutter-stop with glee. The bass comes atcha from all sides, formidable but still hungry. The band’s sound has space built in and nothing suffocates, even if it dominates. Tack on some three-part harmonies that jostle just a bit atop the whip-crack of drums and the album feels like its been hiding in the stacks for more than a few years.

That’s the real charm, and one that they’d employed on their last album as well. Primo! know their influences and they wear them well. The album could easily slip between the shelf-worn brittleness of Kleenex, Oh-OK, and Pylon but they don’t commit to one corner of the post-punk playground for too long. The sound skips from the pogo-pop of “Machine” to the rubber-legged saunter of “Rolling Stone” and never sounds out of sync with itself. The band shares two members with Aussie upstarts Terry, and there’s certainly a crossover appeal, but they come out like a softer, slyer version of the pop upset created within the confines of Terry. The lowered barriers make it a more sinister sister album to Terry’s last. Once inside the confines of Sogni the band’s no less cutting but they’ve already burrowed under your skin and once they’re in there, its impossible to shake ‘em.




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ES

London quartet Es communicate a caustic brand of post-punk — paint stripped of any excess embellishment and set to rupture the rabble around them. Driven by laser-focused bass lines that don’t play well with their queasy synths, tension threatens to tear each and every track apart before it even reaches the speakers. Add in the vocal drill downs by Maria Cecilia Tedemalm and this record begins to drop a sinister shadow over 2020. The band released an EP a while back on vital underground siphon La Vida Es Un Mus, and their debut, Less of Everything doesn’t let up from the acerbic venom that they laid down in the short form. Guitars recoil from the sun, staggering through disjointed rhythms stricken with angular afflictions gone green around the edges. The drums are driving, but not insistent. The band knows how to play with the knife-edge of uneasiness, creating an environment where at any moment the ground shifts beneath the listener — tempos sideswipe each other, instruments devour one another — but the gleam in their eyes says they’re enjoying the upset.

The band picks at the scabs of the ‘70s, yet that doesn’t mean they don’t share some similarities with their concurrent peers. Shades of Flesh World, Hierophants, Naked on the Vague and even labelmates Sauna Youth (also recorded by Lindsay Corstorphine, behind the boards here) abound. This is dance music for the floor clearers, the kinds who revel in the end of the night noise that DJs seem to employ to get ‘em in the cabs. They seem to enjoy the disjointed dance they create — teeth gnashed but smiling with wicked glee at the corners of their mouths. Upset the Rhythm has a habit of finding the one’s that don’t fit neatly into the boxes genre creates and this year is no different. Es is yet another barbed offering from the label and one well worth sickening the speakers with this week.



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PRIMO! – “Machine”

Another gem out of the Aussie cabal of excellent musicians today. In anticipation of their upcoming second album, PRIMO releases the driving jangler “Machine” — a sandpapered, yet loosely slung bit of post-punk if there ever was one. The band’s seemingly perfected their sound on this one, and it stands as one of the band’s most engaging songs yet. The standout single crackles with life — anchored by the brittle drum snap, worn-in guitars and those four-part harmonies that make it all gel just right. The band pairs the song with a motor-heavy video that has a ‘70s charm. There are plenty of Aussie exports that tend to get overlooked here and PRIMO’s last album got glossed over here, hoping that audiences abroad don’t make the same mistake twice.

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Primo – “Best and Fairest”

So many 2020 stunners on the way and this new track from Aussies Primo is a solid killer. With members of Terry, Constant Mongrel, and Sleeper & Snake in their ranks, the band is already poised for interest around here, but the fact that their last album was a low-key constant on the turntable doesn’t hurt either. Chugging on a meaty strum, “Best and Fairest” draws parallels between life and sports, noting how those who play the game with a moral compass don’t always wind out with the cup at the end. The track picks up where their last LP left off — wound wire basslines, hummable harmonies and that slight twinge of squelch in the background. They pick at the spare end of the post-punk spectrum (Young Marble Giants, Oh-OK, Confetti) but they pull away from the aloofness of those bands just a touch and back towards a softer punch. While parallels between Terry and Primo certainly arise (with two crossover members), in truth Primo are like a complimentary pairing with the band — a fine wine that makes the flippant sneers of Terry wash down nicely. Their sophomore LP, Sogni lands on Upset The Rhythm / Anti-Fade on April 17th.



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Handle – “Punctured Time”

Upset The Rhythm continue to scar the post-punk landscape with a new offering from Manchester trio Handle. “Punctured Time” is a jittery, jaundiced comedown of clatter-pocked noise punk, splattered with spittle and wrecked by rhythm. The band aren’t looking to invoke dance so much as they’re aiming to induce fits. The song pushes and pulls like they wrote songs on the page and then used silly putty transfers to distribute the score for the session. Notes crumble and cramp, disjoint and dislodge. It’s a righteous racket that consumes the tin foil tension and spits it back as brightly colored ball bearings of beat and squirm. The LP lands March 6th.




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Robert Sotelo

Robert Sotelo’s third LP, and his first for skewed pop stable Upset The Rhythm, is both sublimely serene and incessantly itchy. His pop comes on like the warm confines of a sweater that reveals itself to irritate the skin. There’s a squirm to songs like “Mister,” or the title track “Infinite Sprawling” but it doesn’t seem to bother Sotelo. He’s lost in the confines of his mind, locked away from the tether of earthly irritation. The pontifications of Sotelo’s pop are, in fact, comforting. He’s lost like you are. He’s nagged and dogged by the same singularities that give you pause, but he’s confident in his croon and it makes it seem right. But what’s that clanking? It’s off behind the buttery guitars and jangled hooks and it seems to be getting closer. More often than not there’s a buzz, the odd xylophone rhythm, the croak of frogs that sets a track off the path and dipping into the bog on that’s built up around the preserve.

He can cloak a track in amber country hues (“Run”) but it’s still tripping over its own feet and it feels good to know that we’re not alone in our own self-conscious tumble through the cosmos. Rob’s pop falls under the same full-moon sway that past primers like Moon Martin were bound embrace. He’s the outsider, but truthfully, he is all of us. He is dipped in pop, but he’s not comfortable with how deep he’s swum in its waters. His head is spinning with doubt, protracted and distracted. Inside his songs we’re narcotized and enjoying the party, but internally we can’t figure out why that stomach pain is so present, where it came from and what it means. Sotelo’s a master of moods and on Infinite Sprawling he’s captured a corner of the lounge that doesn’t get swept that often. Its’s nice picking through the detritus with him for a while.



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